Super simple Crockpot Beef Stew!

It’s beginning to really feel like Fall around here! Whoo hoo! 🙂 I had some stew meat in the freezer so I decided to throw together a beef stew. It was perfect stew weather yesterday so it seemed appropriate 🙂 I know I have another crockpot beef stew recipe on here, but I was feeling really lazy yesterday and just wanted to throw everything in the pot and be don’t with it. This recipe is even simpler than my other stew recipe and it came out just as good, if not better than that one!

Ingredients:
* 1 1/2- 2 pounds beef stew meat. Trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
* 1/2 cup flour
* 1 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1/2 tsp. pepper
* 1 1/2 cups beef broth (I just buy the beef bouillon cubes and add water to them to make my own broth. It’s a lot more economical that way and I always have broth on hand)!
* 1 clove minced garlic
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 tsp. Paprika
* 5 carrots, sliced
* 1/2 an onion, chopped
* 4 stalks celery, sliced
* 5 small red potatoes, cubed

Directions:
Place the stew meat in the bottom of your slow cooker. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper and pour over the stew meat, stirring to coat. Next, add in the rest of the ingredients, except the potatoes, and give it a good stir. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. The original recipe said to cook for 10-12 hours with all the ingredients. This seemed a bit excessive to me and especially for the potatoes. A russet potato might hold up a little bit better to that cooking time, however since I just had red potatoes, it seemed too long. Red potatoes are more delicate and not as thick as a russet so I just placed my potatoes in a bowl and kept them in the fridge until I was ready to add them. I added them about 4 hours into the cooking time, and they were perfect by dinner time. I think they basically would have fallen apart, had I added them in at the beginning, so I was happy I made a good call 🙂 like I mentioned previously though, if you’re using russets, they may need to cook for a longer amount of time.
I hope you try this recipe and if so, report back whatever your opinion, good or bad 🙂
Peace and love!

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Caramel Apple Pie Cookies

Hubby actually found this recipe and asked me if I would give it a shot. I usually prefer to make components of recipes from scratch, however after looking at this one, that is just not feasible with the busy life I lead right now. So I improvised a little bit and used the store bought caramel sauce and canned apple pie filling, but I made my own crust, that still counts as homemade right? 😉

Ingredients:

* 1 can apple pie filling
* 1 cup caramel sauce
* 2 homemade pie crusts (you can also buy them at the store, they’re in the refrigerated section typically)
* 1 egg (for an egg wash)
* 2 tbsp. cinnamon- sugar mixture
* 1 tbsp. ground nutmeg

Directions:
Make your pie crusts, or if you’re using pre-made ones then just skip this step. If you’re making your own, I have “the perfect pie crust” recipe on here and it works great for any pie, including these pie cookies! Once you’ve made your crusts, place them in the refrigerator and let them stiffen up a bit, about 15 minutes or so.
Preheat your oven to 350F. Next, spray a baking sheet with non stick spray and roll out your dough. Use a circular cookie cutter or a round object to cut out appropriate sized circles from your dough. These circles will be your cookies, so just make them however big you want the cookies to be. All I could find at the time was a (clean) sippy cup of my daughter’s, it looked about the right size so I gave it a shot! 😉 Once you’ve laid out your circles on your baking tray, you’ll start to “build” the pies.
Place a small amount of caramel on each cookie, not too much, but enough to cover the top. Then chop up the apples in the pie filling (they’re a little too big for these cookies) into smaller chunks. Place about a tablespoonful of filling onto each cookie, on top of the caramel layer.
Next, take your second pie crust and cut it into strips. These strips will be the lattice top “crust” of your pie cookies. Mine are not tidy at all and I just sort of winged it with the top, but I did two strips and then tucked two more strips into those strips (sorry, I know that is confusing)! You can just google lattice crust and get an idea or just lay the strips across one another. They’ll turn out cute any way you do it I’m sure 🙂
Now, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle your cinnamon-sugar mix and nutmeg over them. Bake the cookies for 20-25 minutes or until the bottoms start looking just barely golden brown.
These came out a lot better than I was expecting and they really are like little mini apple pies! Happy Fall!! 🙂

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Dough after it’s been chilled for a bit. It’s a lot easier to work with if it’s a little cold, versus room temperature.

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Who knew sippy cups would come in handy when baking?!

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Very messy lattice tops, but you get the idea 😉

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I’m anxiously awaiting Hubby’s return from work, I can’t wait to surprise him with these cookies! 🙂

Crockpot Applesauce Take 1

I love homemade applesauce and grew up helping my mom make it. She would make a huge batch of it during the summer and then freeze a bunch in our deep freeze for the cold winter months. I remember eating it as a treat warmed up, it is such a cozy memory and one that I hope to recreate with my own daughter. When my mom made applesauce she used some crazy sieve looking thing with a crank turner. If I remember correctly, she would boil the apples, crank turn them through that contraption, remove all the cores and stems, then sweeten it, and probably do some more steps I missed. That sounds like an awful lot of work to me, especially considering the sieve turner thing looks as if it’s on its last leg! Haha, so I went looking and found a MUCH simpler way of producing homemade applesauce!

Ingredients:
* 4 large apples, or 8 small ones (I used golden delicious and i think a few Granny Smith apples snuck it there too) the original recipe said you could use any apples you wanted, and maybe next time I’ll experiment with a Macintosh or other redder apple and see what the results yield with those.
* 1/2 a lemon, squeezed
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
Begin by peeling, coring, and slicing your apples and placing them in the crockpot. Next, juice your lemon and add that to the apples, along with the water, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Give this a good stir, so that all the apples are evenly coated.
Place the lid on the crockpot and cook on high for 4-5 hours. My apples were very soft after 4 hours, so I would say to check it about that time. If they are ready, mash them with a potato masher or a fork. They should be quite soft and mash easily. Place your applesauce into a container and refrigerate. I used a couple of Mason jars, because it just seemed like an appropriate container for such a rustic mixture 🙂 I think this would be a really cute thing to give the neighbors/ friends/family as gifts in the fall or even to go in a basket with some baked treats as a Christmas present! Next time I plan on doubling the recipe as this only yields two pint sized jars full. I cannot wait to eat this on my pork chops I have brining in coffee in the fridge! Yep, you heard me right, COFFEE! I hope they turn out well! If so, I’ll post the recipe tomorrow! 🙂

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I used this handy little kitchen tool, smart huh?

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I was very pleased with this recipe, it’s still not quite like how I remember my mom’s. Since this was so easy, I think I’ll keep exploring and maybe next time just add a hint of brown sugar for some warmth and sweetness!

The correct way to cook frozen vegetables!

So I’m a silly goose, I totally know how to boil water and cook veggies, but I just never thought they quite came out just right. I have to make them soft enough too for my one year old. Frozen vegetables are another one of the few frozen items I buy. I know that fresh is obviously better, but I like to keep a variety of frozen vegetables on hand so I always have them at the ready. I finally figured out how to boil my frozen vegetables perfectly! This may seem really silly and like common sense to a lot of you, but to me I’m excited that I finally got the technique down!

Ingredients:
* 1 bag of your favorite frozen vegetables. I’ve now tried this technique with peas, mixed vegetables, carrots, and French cut green beans, and it works perfect every time!
* 1/2 cup water

Directions:
Place 1/2 cup of water in a medium sized pan and bring it to a boil. Pour in your vegetables, stir, and bring the water back up to a boil. Now, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid. Let cook for 8-10 minutes, or your desired softness. I’ve found that green beans take longer to cook than the smaller less dense vegetables, like peas.
I hope this helps out some other people and persuades you to eat more vegetables! 😉

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Chocolate Mousse Pie

Happy Monday! This is my husband’s favorite pie that I make. Every time I’ve made it I get rave reviews and everyone loves it! It is a rich pie, but oh so good!

Ingredients:
* 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
* 1/3 cup baking cocoa
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1/3 cup melted butter
* 2 3/4 cups chocolate chips, divided
* 2 cups heavy whipping cream
* 2 tsp. powdered sugar
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine graham cracker crumbs, cocoa, and sugar in a 9-inch pie plate. Stir in butter until moistened; press onto bottom and up sides of pie plate.
Bake the crust for for 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle 1/2 cup morsels over bottom of hot crust, let stand for 10 minutes, or until morsels are shiny and are beginning to melt. Spread the melted morsels over the crust, cool to room temperature.
Microwave 2 cups morsels and 3/4 cups cream for 1 minute, or until melted, cool to room temperature.
Beat remaining cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold 2 cups whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Spoon this into the crust, swirl top, and add another layer of the remaining whipped cream for the top. Refrigerate until firm.

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I ran out of whipped cream at the end so mine isn’t as pretty as it typically looks. Normally, the whipped cream would cover the entire top, and you can even drizzle some melted chocolate on at the end for a final touch!

Man Pleasing Bacon Cheeseburgers!

I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love the Food Network/food blogger, The Pioneer Woman. I wish I could meet her, and if I did I would tell her that we are in love with her recipe for bacon cheeseburgers! I originally watched her episode where she had made these so I decided to give them a try, and YUM! They are delicious and My husband said that it was the best burger I’d ever made! 🙂 Thanks PW for a happy hubby!

Ingredients:

* 1 lb. 80/20 ground beef
* 1/3 cup heavy cream
* 4-5 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco
* 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 4 hamburger buns or other soft rolls
* Softened butter, for spreading, plus 2 tablespoons
* 4 slices Cheddar
* 6 slices cooked bacon, halved

Directions:
Place the beef into a medium mixing bowl. Add the cream, hot sauce, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. With clean hands, mix the meat well. Set aside.

Next, spread each bun half with some softened butter. Place the buns face-down on a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Lightly grill the buns so they’re nice and golden. Let the buns cool on a plate until you need them.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. Form the beef mixture into 6 patties and place in the skillet, in batches if needed. Allow each to cook about 4 minutes on the first side, flip them and place a slice of Cheddar on to melt.

When the patties are done in the middle, place them on the base of the halved buns. Top each with 2 pieces of the bacon and top with the other half of the buns.

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I tried grilling my buns in my regular stainless steel pans and it didn’t work out so well….I would recommend using a nonstick pan instead of stainless if you have it. My pan ended up getting really dark spots and it took forever, a lot of elbow grease, and my trusty Bar Keeper’s Friend to remove the marks. I’ll definitely be grilling them in a different pan next time!

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The burgers came out thick, juicy, and with a kick of spice! Perfect!

French Dip Sandwiches

One of my favorite parts about cooking pot roasts is having the leftover meat to make French Dips the next day! It’s such a nice quick meal, and we’re all about eating leftovers in our house. I think the roast and the gravy drippings from it actually got better the second day. My husband even said it was the best French Dip he’d ever had, score!!

Ingredients:
* leftover pot roast meat
* leftover juices from the pot roast ( just strain out the bits of meat and save the liquids from the crockpot)
* an au jus seasoning packet
* some good French bread or other bread to make your sandwiches out of
* butter for spreading on your sandwiches

Directions:
Pour the leftover juices from the roast into a saucepan and heat it up. There will be some hardened fat clumps in the liquid probably, but don’t worry about those. They are naturally occurring and will just melt into your liquid once it heats up. I know it looks and sounds sort of gross, I usually scrape the big chunks off the top after the liquid has been refrigerated, but it’s hard to get it all. You won’t even know they’re there once it’s all heated, promise!

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Heat up the liquid until right before it starts to boil. Then, add in your au jus seasoning packet and whisk. Let it come to a boil and then turn it down to simmer.

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Add in your leftover roast right into the liquid. This is just something we do it our house, it just makes the meat nice and warm and coated with the delicious gravy au jus. You can always heat the meat separately and then place it on your sandwich, it would probably be a lot less messy that way! We don’t mind a bit of messy food now and then though, after all we do have a toddler in the house 🙂

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Toast your bread and butter it, then place your meat on the sandwich and serve up a little au jus in a bowl on the side. If you go with the messy sandwich way, you really don’t even need the au jus to dip it in, but it’s so good! I just popped some tater tots in the oven to serve with these sandwiches. Tater tots are one of the few frozen, processed food items I do buy. They are just so yummy and perfect for this kind of a meal, when you need a fast side. I also just had regular wheat sandwich bread for our sandwiches, so thats what I used. They would be super tasty with some nice crusty french bread also, mmm! I also sliced up a cucumber, however, it’s not pictured because cucumbers are a treat in our house, and a certain little baby won’t eat anything else if she spies them beforehand, little peanut 😉